Saturday, March 13, 2010

Carnavales! Friends! Carne de Monte!

Alright, so its been a while since I last updated my blog, I know. But this one is longer than normal, so it all evens out in the end.

In mid-February, my frind Ben from the U of Oregon came down from his job as a teacher in New York to spend a week in Panama with me. We started out by heading to Chitre, the capital of the Hererra province. Why did we go there you ask? One word answer: Carnaval. Now the Carnaval celebration in Panama isnt the biggest or most famous in the world, but you can trust me in full confidence that it is still one heckuva party. Below are a few pictures of the celebrations (Not my pictures by the way, I was afraid to take out my camera since it was pretty much guaranteed to get stolen if I did.)

This is a picture of the cathedral in the central square of Chitre, around which the main celebration was held. Our hostel was just down the street from the main entrance to the party and people passed by our balcony (we were on the second floor of the building) all day and night long. Plus the music was basically 24 hours and right on the street below us. It was a good spot to be at.

This is a pisture of the celebration in Las Tablas, down the road in Los Santos, but it gives you an idea of how packed the streets were during the day.

Here are the famous Culecos, water tankers with giant hoses, from which people on top of the truck soak the people on the street. It was a great way to cool down from the heat, and since we were an easily identifiable group of gringos walking around, we were drenched constantly.

A sample of the costumes that the queens wore. I tried to find one of the queens in Chitre, but alas, I cant seem to locate any. These are from the capital city I believe. Anyway, the queen`s parade would wind its way through the plaza every couple of hours or so and her band would follow her down the road. Following behind these floats was basically the only way to get further into the crowded streets.

The queen`s band. Good stuff, it was all brass and drums and they played really catchy tunes.

After 3 days of nonstop Carnavaleing, we headed up to my community in Colon and took a hike into the San Lorenzo national park. Here we are at the top of the gigantic hill that you need to head down to get there. That valley behind us is where we were headed.

Some of my good friends in PC Panama at the beach one night. We have fun together, clearly.
And finally, a few pictures of carne de monte, or bush meat. The first is an iguana, slowly smoking over some coals. February is iguana season, when they start to produce eggs. The people eat the meat, usually cooked with shredded coconut, and the eggs, which are boiled and have a soft shell.

This is a quarter of a ├▒ece, which kind of looks like a cross between a rabbit, a rat, and a pig. The meat is good when its fried, but then again what meat isn`t good fried?
So Carnaval was an absolute blast and I can`t wait to do it again next year. If anyone is interested in experiencing it for themselves, let me know and we can try to work something out as far as accomidations and other logistics go. Other than that, I have been working with a couple of groups of farmers in my town and the surrounding communities and preparing to start up more home gardens and the garden at the school. I`m going to be working on the training garden for the next group of volunteers that arrives in April and will be training them as well later on down the road.
I hope everyone is in good health back home and the cold isn`t getting to you too much!

1 comment:

  1. Awesome! i'm glad you're taking a crap ton of pictures while you're down there. All i have from my travels are landscapes. I did get to visit Pete Hess' homeland of boise for a while. There were some crazy (un)memorable times had there. Please tell me that the piece of the nece is the pre-cooked version